In the last six weeks that I’ve been home from the hospital with three children under age three, I have amassed a vast knowledge of how to successfully navigate these often perilous waters. No matter what ages they are, I’m quite confident that having three kids (or more!) is an automatic challenge. For instance, if you have an 8 year old, 4 year old, and a newborn, you’ve got to balance activities suitable for both big kids and little kids alike, all while having a baby in tow. I am lucky because that is not one of my issues. But don’t let that statement fool you. There is a unique challenge that comes with “3 under 3” that I will do my best to explain. If you have three children all under the age of three, this means that basically you have a “big” toddler and a “little” toddler. Oh, and a newborn. You may recall when Rex was born that I dubbed Landri “Toddzilla” and have since referred to her as Toddzilla 1.0 and (now) Rex as Toddzilla 2.0. The origin of this name comes from the English root word “Godzilla,” which is defined as “a large destructive monster.” Thus, Toddzilla is defined as “a small destructive monster.” Let’s review the pros and cons of Toddzillas 1.0 & 2.0:
- Toddzilla 1.0 Pros: understands and speaks English
- Toddzilla 1.0 Cons: tantrums of epic magnitude
- Toddzilla 2.0 Pros: easily distracted/redirected
- Toddzilla 2.0 Cons: very limited understanding of English, and lacks effective communication skills, i.e. speech [also as a side note, I would add tantrums here, but they don’t hold a candle to those of Toddzilla 1.0]
So as you can see, there’s a very unique dynamic happening here. On their own, the Toddzillas are a daunting challenge for even the most seasoned parent, but throw in a newborn and things can get pretty dicey and pretty scary, pretty quickly! Based on the last six weeks of my life, I’ve put together my Pro Tips for surviving what one of those eCards calls the tiny army that rules your house. Some of these are probably a bit redundant, but what do you expect from a frazzled, brain-fried stay at home mom of three under three?!?!! 😉
Pro Tips for 3 under 3:
1. Probably the most important tip is this: the goal is survival. Cut yourself some slack. So what, they’ve gone a few days without a bath or watched an extra show. Whatevs!
2. Close calls don’t count. Is everyone still breathing? Check!!! [See Pro Tip #1, the goal is survival.]
3. Also very important, assist the one closest to dying first (fingers don’t belong in electrical outlets).
4. Expect chaos. Like all the time. No, seriously.
5. Accept help when needed, and ask for help when needed. No reason to go more crazy than you already are!
6. Expect the unexpected. Toddzilla 1.0 will inevitably end up with Toddzilla 2.0’s poop on her hands while you’re changing the baby. [Yes, that’s right, the oldest will be covered in the middle one’s poop. I know. You thought the oldest would know better by now. Alas, expect the unexpected.]
7. Expect to never sit down. Ever. Because of this, try to wear supportive sneakers as much as possible, especially if you’re old like me. I went barefoot/wore flip flops the first few weeks and had to start wearing my running shoes to cut down on foot/joint pain. Notice I said “cut down on.” Cuz you’re just gonna be in physical pain. All the time. This will come up again in the next Pro Tip #8, expect to be very tired 24/7.
8. Probably extremely obvious, but expect to be very tired. Like more tired than you’ve ever been. I roll outta bed exhausted, feeling like I’ve run a marathon every morning, and I’ve actually run about a dozen marathons so I feel qualified to say this. Thus, you can imagine what it feels like to get in bed by the end of the day.
9. Expect a lot of planning. And more planning. Your poor little brain will be (attempting) to run on overdrive 24/7/365. It might actually be more tired than your body. Hard to imagine, I know. You will be planning every minute of every day (meals, snacks, naps, car evacuations, loading up the car, activities, errands, chores, morning and bedtime routines, etc). Expect to never eat or drink unless you massively plan ahead for yourself (which obviously you must do). So yes, you will need to plan to drink water for hydration. The same goes for showering and other personal hygiene. Additionally, plan for the worst (yes, more planning). Your oldest will somehow pee an entire gallon all at once thru her diaper even though that hasn’t happened in 6 months. You still need to carry a backup outfits for everyone. [See Pro Tip #6, expect the unexpected and Pro Tip #12 below, get a huge a$$ diaper bag.] Plan triple the time you think you will need. You might be way early. But then again, you might still be an hour late. Also, be willing to ditch all of your plans at any time and adapt entirely new ones on the fly. Yes, more planning, planning, planning!
10. Expect to forget stuff (like brushing YOUR teeth…or theirs!). You will learn to realize this is okay. It happens. All.The.Time. Remember the most important Pro Tip of all (#1), the goal is to survive.
11. Use your time wisely. Surprisingly find yourself with some “alone” time somehow? Consider: would you like to sit down for five minutes or brush your teeth today? You can choose one and only one. Go! (and hurry!)
12. Get a huge a$$ diaper bag. It’s gonna suck to carry, but a triple blowout is gonna suck worse. Just sayin.
13. Do laundry every day, no matter how “small” your load is. That crap will multiply like rabbits and will BURY you alive in a heartbeat if you don’t watch out. It’s easier to do a “small” load and put it away each day than doing 1,234 loads one week to catch up. You don’t want to end up on Hoarders: Buried Alive just because your laundry got out of control.
14. Do not feel guilty for sometimes relying on the parenting technique of bribery. As you all know, Landri has a fetish for latex gloves, and I admit that I often bribe her into compliance with the promise of a new pair of “glubs.” I’ll stress it again; the goal is to survive.
15. That said, expect that what motivates your toddler one day, to suddenly be the most DE-motivating thing in the entire world the next day. [See Pro Tip #4, expect the unexpected.]
16. And expect epically humungous toddler tantrums because of this. And, just for no reason at all.
17. Do your best to stay calm (insert hysterical fits of laughter here).
18. Appreciate when you “only” have 2 children with you (doesn’t even matter which 2, any 2 will be CAKE). And just have 1 kid? HEAVEN!!!!!
19. Expect high highs and low lows. Celebrate all victories and miracles, no matter how small (everyone with teeth brushed this morning? – YAY!!!!) and just learn from the lows, but let them go and don’t dwell.
20. Most importantly, HAVE FUN and embrace this BEAUTIFUL (roller coaster) ride!